Brussel Sprouts with Chorizo and Cranberries
I like to serve my friends a plate full of 'BS' now and then.
Brussel sprouts, that is!
While the other 'BS' can certainly be entertaining, I will assure you that I won't 'BS' you in this 'BS' recipe! Ha! But I do want to apologize for sharing this recipe at the end of brussel sprouts' growing season. I just discovered this amazing combination a few weeks ago and it's just too good not to share!
I started eating brussel sprouts about ten years ago, and my first attempts cooking them were unsuccessful, to say the least. I had the tendency to either overcook them or underseason them. It also took a little time for my palate to adjust to their strong, assertive flavor. But now? I love those little suckers. Especially prepared like this.
In Chinese medicine, it is a belief that sour and/or bitter flavors will bring balance to a sweet tooth, and if you add more cruciferous vegetables like brussel sprouts to your diet it will reduce your cravings for sweets. Sound a little sketchy to you? I get that. But having just devoured this bowl of sprouts for my lunch, I can tell you that not one part of me is craving anything sweet. I just want more sprouts. Why not experiment yourself?
Try to pick out small, fresh brussel sprouts that have tightly packed leaves and are very firm. Those are the ones that are the freshest and have the best flavor. Also good to know — sprouts can be mellowed a little bit with a cold snap. If you mix the sprouts with ice cubes (or crushed ice) in a large bowl and let them sit for 30 minutes or more it will help to 'sweeten' them. I found this useful while I was still acquiring a taste for them, but now that they've become one of my favorites I usually don't even bother.
Cleaning the sprouts: Give them a rinse under cold water. Start by cutting off the stump where the sprout was pulled off the stalk and remove any damaged outer leaves. Then cut the smaller ones in half thru their core; larger ones in half again so that they're cut into quarters. You want them all to be about the same size so that they cook evenly. And you want to be sure each section is held together by part of the core, otherwise the sprouts will just fall apart.
Chorizo is a cured, smoked sausage produced in Spain or Latin America. Typically made of pork, paprika and salt, it has bold flavor without being overly spicy. There are two types of chorizo: picante (spicy) and sweet (dulce). But as a rule (although not always) the shorter links are the spicy sausages we use in this recipe. Also, be aware that fresh chorizo is available (yum!) but for this recipe I've chosen to use the cured variety.
Now, you could make these with bacon instead and it would taste equally delicious. However that would involve a seperate step of cooking the bacon, which translates into more prep time and more dishes to clean. Who needs that when you just throw the chorizo in the same pan and be done?
If you like a little crunch, then by all means add the pumpkin seeds. But truthfully, the dish won't suffer without them. I promise!
Finally, keep in mind that this is not a precise dish. I've given you measurements for guidance, but don't feel obligated to be rigid in following them. It's an intuitive thing, where you're going to eyeball the amounts and go with your instincts. Think in terms of how much of each ingredient you want per forkful. For me, it's somewhere around 1 piece of chorizo and a couple flecks of chopped cranberry per 2-3 pieces of brussel sprout. Trust yourself!
Brussel Sprouts with Chorizo and Cranberries
The 8SAFE products that I used for this recipe were: Trader Joe's Dried Cranberries, Napa Valley Naturals Organic Olive Oil, and PALACIOS brand Chorizo (while I was able to find several brands of Chorizo that were allergy free, others contained soy.)
- about 8 cups raw brussel sprouts
- 1 tbsp olive oil (enough to barely coat each sprout when tossed)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt (a few large pinches)
- 1/8 tsp pepper (couple shakes)
- 1/2 cup diced Chorizo sausage (one small link)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (a handful)
- 1/4 cup raw, hulled pumpkin seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Clean the brussel sprouts: rinse uder cold water then slice off the stump. Remove any damaged outer leaves. Then cut each sprout in half vertically through the core. For larger sprouts, cut into quarters, being sure to leave part of the core intact to hold the leaves together. Ideally, you'd like them all to be roughly the same size.
- Place the sprouts in a large bowl, add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Then lay them out in a single layer on a sheet pan and stick in the oven for 15 minutes.
- While sprouts are cooking, cut the Chorizo into a large dice. *see note below*
- Chop the cranberries and set aside. (You can also chop the pumpkin seeds if you'd like, I find them easier to digest that way!).
- At the 15 minute mark, turn your sprouts and add the chorizo to the pan. Cook an additional 15 minutes.
- Then toss with the cranberries and pumpkin seeds and serve.
*No worries, the sausage can be eaten right out of the package, so we're just warming it up in this recipe. The amount of time you cook the Chorizo will vary depending on how large of a dice you like. For chunkier pieces 15 minutes works well, but roast them for only 10 minutes if they're small, and only 5 if they're teenie. Otherwise you run the risk of them getting dried out and hard. *